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Women Can Look So Lifelike In Video Games. So Can The Way They Get Beaten To Death.

I'm an unabashed nerd. Most prominent in my repertoire of nerdery is video games. But video games haven't always been good to me. Female characters are routinely verbally and physically abused, sexually assaulted, and killed in video games. I'm always annoyed by unnecessarily revealing costumes and obnoxiously gigantic boobs, but it's the violence against female characters that keeps me away from certain games — even entire genres.This video starts with a long series of graphic examples of unnecessary violence against women from 28 of the most successful video games of the last eight years*, but I'm starting you toward the end (23:30), where Anita Sarkeesian discusses an example of a video that does "abuse as a theme" right and why it's important (and possible) for video games to be violent without being harmful.Quick vocab lesson before you start: "NPC" means "non-playable character."*If you start at 23:30, there are no descriptions or depictions of violence, but if you start at the beginning instead, TRIGGER WARNING for everything I mentioned above.

Women Can Look So Lifelike In Video Games. So Can The Way They Get Beaten To Death.

It's worth considering whether these violent presentations of objectified women affect the people who consume them. I'm forced to wonder if there's a connection between images of fictional women as disposable, non-human recipients of violent treatment and the treatment of real women in the gaming community.

It's worth noting that within days of posting this video, Sarkeesian received threats so specific and so severe that she had to temporarily abandon her home and warn her parents (big-time TRIGGER WARNING here).


She received threats because she is completely right. So share this post so that her voice can be louder than the evil people who would threaten and intimidate her for speaking the truth.

If you're curious about the examples** in the video but don't want to view the graphic content, you can check out the accompanying blog post. Some of the violence is described, but there are no images or videos.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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